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Environmental sustainability of bioethanol produced from sweet sorghum stem on saline–alkali land

Wang, Mingxin, Pan, Xinxing, Xia, Xunfeng, Xi, Beidou, Wang, Lijun
Bioresource technology 2015 v.187 pp. 113-119
acidification, agrochemicals, alkaline soils, bioethanol, ecotoxicology, energy efficiency, environmental impact, ethanol production, eutrophication, feedstocks, fossil fuels, freshwater, global warming, humans, life cycle assessment, recycling, saline soils, salt stress, soil salinity, steam, sweet sorghum, toxicity, vinasse
Life cycle assessment was conducted to evaluate the energy efficiency and environmental impacts of a bioethanol production system that uses sweet sorghum stem on saline–alkali land as feedstock. The system comprises a plant cultivation unit, a feedstock transport unit, and a bioethanol conversion unit, with 1000L of bioethanol as a functional unit. The net energy ratio is 3.84, and the net energy gain is 17.21MJ/L. Agrochemical production consumes 76.58% of the life cycle fossil energy. The category with the most significant impact on the environment is eutrophication, followed by acidification, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity, human toxicity, and global warming. Allocation method, waste recycling approach, and soil salinity significantly influence the results. Using vinasse to produce pellet fuel for steam generation significantly improves energy efficiency and decreases negative environmental impacts. Promoting reasonable management practices to alleviate saline stress and increasing agrochemical utilization efficiency can further improve environmental sustainability.